05.26.2009

One year ago, on this date and at this time, TLB was born! So raise a glass of your favorite wine or champagne and toast to your favorite listening blog!

As you can see, I finished the redesign just in time. All your favorite features are still here–subscriptions via RSS and email, the Amazon widget (although it looks a little funny right now), post tag categories–but it’s packaged in a brand-new look (and the Twitter widget is much fancier now). I’m loving the new digs at WordPress as well. I’ll be making some tweaks here and there, but for the most part, this is how TLB will look from now on. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

And now, for the big announcement I promised two and a half weeks ago! Drum roll please….

I’m going to be recording a new pop music album!

That’s right folks, for the first time since the release of Following A Star in 2005, I will be writing and recording a new CD. I have a collection of new songs, and a few old songs I want to rerecord, that have been sitting around for a long time; and now that I have new (and much better) recording technology and a renewed passion, I’m gonna do it. I’ll be writing some new songs for it as well, and my goal is to release it by the end of this year.

And that’s not all! You, my loyal readers and fans, can play a part in the making of this album. And here’s how: The CD will be entitled Songs From My Shelf, so-called because every song on the CD will contain at least one literary allusion–to a novel, a poem, etc. And as I mentioned above, it’s going to have at least a few rerecordings of old songs on it. So here’s how you can participate: Vote for your favorite previously-recorded song from the list below. The song or two with the most votes will get a brand-new recording and will make it onto the album!

And even that’s not all! The first five people who can correctly identify at least one literary allusion in each of the songs below will receive a free copy of Songs From My Shelf along with an exclusive bonus song.

So let’s recap:

  1. I’m making a new album!
  2. You can participate by voting for your favorite song to get a new recording and a place on the new album!
  3. If you correctly identify at least one literary allusion in each of the songs below, you’ll get a free copy of the CD with a bonus song!

If you need a refresher on the music or lyrics for the songs, click on the title to be taken to the song’s page on my website. Then click the link after the list to be taken to the voting page!

“All I Need”

“The Aisle”

“Beren’s Song”

“Too Far”

“Watchin’ From A Distance”

And now that you’ve refreshed your memory, click to vote here!

Thanks for your interest and support! I’m really excited about making this new record, and I can’t wait for you to hear it. Stay tuned to your favorite listening blog–further news will be forthcoming!

EDIT (5/27): All the old Blogger posts have now been imported, complete with their labels/tags/categories! Some of the links may not work anymore (since the URL path for links to other posts is different now), and it looks like embedded videos show up simply as links; but all the content is there now. Rock on!

EDIT (later on 5/27): I’ve reconfigured the RSS feed link in the sidebar. If you’ve previously subscribed to the RSS feed, you might need to subscribe again since the address has changed, and the past TLB RSS feed no longer works. Sorry for any inconvenience!

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05.20.2009

TLB Downtime

Posted by AJ Harbison at 9:07 pm

Hi folks,
Another quick update–I’m going to be changing my web host for TLB, and I’m initiating the domain transfer today. There may be several days of downtime while the transfer takes place, so you’ll see a parking page if you visit TLB during that time–but have no fear, we’ll be back up and running in a few days, hopefully with a new look!

Catch all y’all on the flip side!

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05.19.2009

Quick Update

Posted by AJ Harbison at 11:29 pm

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while–I’ve been busy working on the site’s redesign and host switch. It’s turning out to be a lot more complicated than I thought it was going to be, and so consequently the redesign might be delayed until after May 26th. But have no fear–redesign or not, the Big Announcement will still be made that day. So stay tuned!

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04.29.2009

My New Google Profile

Posted by AJ Harbison at 9:13 pm

Google rolled out a new feature last week, Google Profiles, that enable you to further control your “personal branding” on Google. You can set up a Google Profile for yourself, and if you fill in most or all of the information, your profile will show up at the bottom of the first page of Google’s search results for your name. I just learned about this today, and I promptly set up a profile for myself. Most of the information I have on there can be found other places (like my website), but if you like, you can check it out at the following link:

http://www.google.com/profiles/ajharbison

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04.16.2009

Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent"

Posted by AJ Harbison at 3:59 pm

I’m sure by now many of my readers have seen the headlines, and maybe even watched the video, but I thought for those few who may have not I’d post this. Five days ago, on the reality show “Britain’s Got Talent,” a frumpy-looking, middle-aged Scottish woman who lives alone with her cat and admitted she’d never been kissed came to the stage to sing. Simon Cowell (one of the judges of that show as well as “American Idol”) and the entire audience were skeptical of her; but when the music for “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables began and she started to sing, their laughter was changed to surprise, thunderous roars of applause and even tears. (If you watch the video, there’s a priceless shot of Cowell’s eyebrows going up within the first couple of seconds.) She delivered an amazing performance with a lovely, powerful voice that, over the course of a day or two, has become a huge Internet sensation. The YouTube video has been seen almost twelve and a half million times (a full ten percent of the total views of YouTube’s all-time most watched video, in five days)–and that’s only the full version, never mind the couple million more views of other versions. It’s worth checking out.

You can read an article about the performance (albeit a flowery one) here. Unfortunately, embedding of the YouTube video has been disabled by request; please click here to watch it.

Is she the best singer on reality TV? No. Is she really a good singer? Yeah, she is. Was her performance expectation-shattering and moving? Heck yeah it was.

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03.30.2009

A Link Between Listening and Seeing

Posted by AJ Harbison at 11:06 pm

Another short news post, before I get back to blogging about more interesting things….

This article is a quick read, and describes a study on why we so often mis-hear lyrics: apparently it’s much easier for our brains to get the words right when we can both hear and see the person singing–shockingly, adding visual information to auditory yields more accurate results than auditory information alone.

“Blinded by the lyric? Study reveals why we get the words wrong”

Maybe this should be The Listening And Watching Blog….

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03.28.2009

Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight

Posted by AJ Harbison at 4:38 pm

I saw an article on MSN.com a few days ago that described a study conducted at Imperial College London. The researchers studied patients who had suffered strokes and consequently had “visual neglect,” a condition where visual awareness is impaired on one half of their field of vision (even though the area of the brain dealing with sight isn’t harmed, the patients’ ability to integrate vision, attention and action is damaged, so even though they might technically “see” something on the impaired side they can’t process the visual information). For some reason, the researchers asked three patients to complete vision tasks in three situations: listening to music they enjoyed, listening to music they didn’t like, and in silence. (The article doesn’t explain why they wanted to test music, of all things.) Apparently, all the patients did better on the tasks when they listened to music they liked; the researchers speculate that the positive emotions created by the music increased the efficiency of their brains’ processing. Interesting stuff.

“Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients’ Sight”

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03.20.2009

Listen: Life With Classical Music

Posted by AJ Harbison at 1:58 am

To my surprise, I received in the mail a few days ago the inaugural volume of the print magazine Listen: Life With Classical Music. I’d never heard of it before (I suppose since it was the first issue), and I couldn’t figure out how I got on the distribution list for it. The website, which I linked above, was no help, only offering an online subscription and a few email addresses. After a quick Google search, I discovered that it was launched by ArkivMusic.com, America’s leading online retailer of classical music CDs and DVDs, as a lifestyle magazine for classical music fans. A BusinessWire.com article has the story:

“ArkivMusic.com Launches New Venture: LISTEN: Life with Classical Music”

Another few results from Google revealed that complimentary magazines were sent to people who had purchased something (in some cases, only one something, once) from ArkivMusic. I know I’ve made at least one purchase from Arkiv (as chronicled in this post), so I guess that must have been what landed me on the list to receive the magazine.

I read the first couple of articles today at lunch, and was a bit disappointed. If I’m going to get a magazine, I don’t particularly want it to have super-long and very indepth articles, because I’ll never get around to reading it all; but these articles were too short and had no depth. Almost all of the ads are for recordings that you can buy on Arkiv, too, so as one Google commenter noted, “It seems like a once over lightly publication. The features didn’t get very deep into their subjects – mostly puff promo stuff. I suspected it was put out by Archivmusic based on the number of promos in the magazine.” I’ll probably read the rest of the issue; but if it doesn’t get any better, I won’t be subscribing.

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03.15.2009

I found an article in the Tech section of MSN.com a few days ago that gives a good explanation of how noise-cancelling headphones work. If you can get past the groaner of an introduction and a slightly confusing diagram, it’s got some good stuff in there.

“Noise Cancellation Headphones”

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03.01.2009

The World's Most Unwanted Song

Posted by AJ Harbison at 8:50 pm

Last week I came across this website that looked intriguing (I can’t remember how I got there). Apparently some scientists and artists did a research study to determine the least desirable qualities of songs, and put them all together to create “the world’s most unwanted song,” supposedly one that “fewer than 200 individuals of the world’s total population will enjoy.” (For all you math fans, that’s 0.00000296% of the population of the world.) The song features a length of over 25 minutes, instrumentation including accordion, banjo and bagpipe, and styles ranging from atonal music and rap to advertising jingles and elevator music. I haven’t listened to the song myself yet, but it’s there on the page for you to check out–if you dare.

World’s Most Unwanted Song

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